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birthday dilemma

marno | Sep 27, 200504:35 PM

I am trying to select a restaurant to hold a weeknight birthday dinner for a friend. The group (10 girls in their late 20's) is a mixed bag, so I have some tough criteria, as follows:

-- somewhere newer or not extremely well-known (e.g. not a Lou Malnati's), if at all possible, as many of us dine out often and would prefer something other than the old standbys
-- $30-$40 a head, including alcohol, and we are definitely open to (if not in favour of) a BYOB so we can spend more money on the food
-- somewhere with a relaxed enough atmosphere that we can relax, chat and not be rushed, or not be scorned for having such a large group
-- delicious, interesting food but not somewhere too "exotic", as we have some picky eaters (e.g. sushi is out, because 2 of the girls hate it)
-- located in south loop, west loop, loop, river north, gold coast, old town, lincoln park, lakeview or bucktown (i.e. not anywhere too "far away" from downtown)

Any ideas? With this crazy criteria, I am having a tough time coming up with an appropriate venue.

Thank you :)

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